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Panic on the Streets of London: Police, Crime, and the July 2005 Terror Attacks

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  • Mirko Draca
  • Stephen Machin
  • Robert Witt

Abstract

In this paper we study the causal impact of police on crime, looking at what happened to crime and police before and after the terror attacks that hit central London in July 2005. The attacks resulted in a large redeployment of police officers to central London as compared to outer London. During this time, crime fell significantly in central relative to outer London. The instrumental variable approach we use uncovers an elasticity of crime with respect to police of approximately -0.3 to -0.4, so that a 10 percent increase in police activity reduces crime by around 3 to 4 percent. JEL: K42

Suggested Citation

  • Mirko Draca & Stephen Machin & Robert Witt, 2011. "Panic on the Streets of London: Police, Crime, and the July 2005 Terror Attacks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2157-2181, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:5:p:2157-81
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Patrick Lenain & Marcos Bonturi & Vincent Koen, 2002. "The Economic Consequences of Terrorism," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 334, OECD Publishing.
    2. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-290, June.
    3. Mirko Draca & Stephen Machin & Robert Witt, 2010. "Crime Displacement and Police Interventions: Evidence from London's "Operation Theseus"," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 359-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Alan B. Krueger & Jitka Maleckova, 2003. "Education, Poverty and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 119-144, Fall.
    5. Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effects of Police on Crime: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1244-1250, September.
    6. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Stephen Machin & Olivier Marie, 2011. "Crime And Police Resources: The Street Crime Initiative," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 678-701, August.
    8. repec:pri:rpdevs:krueger_maleckova_education_poverty_political is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Klick, Jonathan & Tabarrok, Alexander, 2005. "Using Terror Alert Levels to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 267-279, April.
    10. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    11. Evans, William N. & Owens, Emily G., 2007. "COPS and crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 181-201, February.
    12. Brian Jacob & Lars Lefgren & Enrico Moretti, 2007. "The Dynamics of Criminal Behavior: Evidence from Weather Shocks," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(3).
    13. Grogger, Jeffrey, 2002. "The Effects of Civil Gang Injunctions on Reported Violent Crime: Evidence from Los Angeles County," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 69-90, April.
    14. Nicholas Bloom, 2009. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(3), pages 623-685, May.
    15. Justin McCrary, 2002. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1236-1243, September.
    16. Freeman, Richard B., 1999. "The economics of crime," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 52, pages 3529-3571 Elsevier.
    17. Gary S. Becker & Yona Rubinstein, 2011. "Fear and the Response to Terrorism: An Economic Analysis," CEP Discussion Papers dp1079, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    18. Cameron, Samuel, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-323.
    19. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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